The Iron Trial by Holly Black abd Cassandra Clare (2014)

iron trialThis dark story about three kids in a magic school will appeal to those looking for Harry Potter readalikes.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages:  295 (for ISBN 978054552225)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, adventure

Tone/Style: dark, mysterious, magical

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: dark magic, magic schools

Themes: destiny, evil, friendship

Summary: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him — a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come… Continue reading

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell (2014)

sleeperThis creepy, atmospheric fairy tale with an intriguing heroine is an original story that draws on the dark roots of fairy tales.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages: 69 (for ISBN 9781408859643)

Genre(s) and keywords: fairy tale, fantasy, novella, illustrated

Tone/Style: magical, melancholy, mysterious

Pace: moderate

Topics: quests, curses, sleep

Themes: choices, the passage of time

Summary: A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish. Continue reading